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Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Ecclus. 2:11-19 & Mk. 9:38-40

The author of Ecclesiasticus instructs his readers to seek wisdom for they will be filled with happiness, inherit honour and be loved and blessed by the Lord - and their life will be secure. Should they be unsure and fear life’s trials, wisdom will lead them back to the straight road. However, as he warns those who abandon wisdom, they will be handed over to their fate.

Today's Gospel addresses Christianity's age-old problem of exclusivity and cliquishness. John, the apostle of love, shows that he still has a long way to go as he indignantly protests that someone other than a disciple should have the effrontery to heal in Jesus' name. He arrogantly assumes he is correct by insisting that the exorcist should stop immediately. Jesus shatters this narrow and indeed dangerous attitude by challenging, “For he that is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).

The Gospel has a breadth and depth that transcends our narrow and petty prejudices. Such prejudices are often very subtle and to a large extent we may not be aware they exist within us. Nevertheless they can have the effect of making us determine where and when we think God is working. This kind of attitude has been severely challenged by Vatican II in its Decree on Ecumenism and by Saint Pope John Paul II in Ut unum sint (That they may be one). These teachings challenge us to ask ourselves whether we recognize that God can work wherever and in whoever He wishes.

Fortunately, He is in no way influenced by our thinking, which produces ideas and views that are coloured by our sin. We can be like the disciples and try to determine who is doing God's work and who isn't; we also tend to create our own hierarchy of gifts or ministries that draws all kinds of distinctions between individuals or bodies of Christians.
The danger with this way of thinking is that it makes us harsh, intolerant and often ignorant of God's work in others both within our Church and in the wider Christian community.

The truth is that in the Kingdom all are valued, all have a unique dignity and God continues to work in ways far beyond our judgements of what is from Him and what is not. Who would have thought 50 years ago that the present ecumenical spirit among Christians would be possible?

God alone is responsible for the ecumenical spirit evident today in our Church and among other Christians. Despite our sinful prejudices we are called to join this mighty ecumenical work. God's call to all Christians is to spread the Gospel of love together.

Heavenly Father, You call us to love all people. You alone have the power to transcend division among us. Help us to recognize our complacency and our prejudices. Give us a repentant heart and a desire to work and pray that all Your children may be one.

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